NEW YORK (MainStreet) ¿ Obamacare looms, but more Americans ¿ including those without health insurance ¿ have little idea how it works or what they should do. With health insurance exchanges set to open in days, a new Harris Poll reports 70% of those surveyed are not at all or not very familiar with them. Those without health insurance are even less familiar, with 73% not at all or not very familiar.
"As health insurance exchanges go live, consumers will have the opportunity to evaluate and select the health insurance plan and benefits that best fit their medical needs and wallet," says Debra Richman, Senior Vice President, Healthcare Strategy, and Co-Chair of Strategic Health Perspectives. "These findings suggest that unless knowledge and understanding of the exchanges begin to grow, particularly among those who aren't covered today, some of consumers may be slow to utilize them. Health insurers must first understand these new individual customers and work to close the huge consumer education gap."
Just 9% of the public report that they are extremely or very familiar with the term health insurance exchange, while another 21% are somewhat familiar. But one thing Americans can agree on: they don't want to pay the penalty for not having coverage. When asked what they would do if their employer did not provide insurance, over half (59%) of those with employer-provided coverage say that they would purchase insurance through the exchanges, as opposed to paying a penalty.